Shoggoths

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Shoggoth,
Can you see me?
Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!
Mutated through aeons,
Survive into modern era.
Feeding its thirst and slaking its hunger
A gelatinous amoeba,
Formless and shapeless,
Absorbing your fluids.

Shoggoth,
Can you hear me?
Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!
Deep Ones and Mi-Go grant
Mind grafts and madness.
Mind trapped in a cage,
Overloading with thoughts
Dark and deep.

Shoggoth,
Do you dream?
Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!
Of Underwater cities, Antarctic homes
Slaves to suggestion; Servant and tools,
Brewing rebellion.
Rolling on pseudopods and eyes,
Shaping organs and appendages
Ready to kill again –
If can you see me.

 

Thanks for reading,

Ernest

 

Whispers and Lures

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This blackest dawn, brightest night.
Creep toward the shadows
Shadows are tranquil.
Grey skies shield the light from
Soothing emptiness.
Filled with whispers and lures
The voices are loud.
Hands over my ears eyes closed.
Blindly stumble onward
To avoid drowning in the mire.
Tread in place trying to hold on the abyss.
It is covered by thin ice
If fall, it could crack I could freeze.
Be numb to the pain.
If only someone else understood.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Fairy Tale Noir

Sharing an excerpt from one of the stores from an anthology I am writing.  This is raw draft, no edits yet, hoping it polishes up well.

 

“My family and I arrived on the shores of Draisia in the dead of night. Life seemed simple to me then, life through the eyes of a child always does. Complexity is for the adults who knew this was a calm before the storm.  The eerie darkness of the night we landed will never escape my memory. The milky speckles twirled and danced along the river in various patterns, tugging at the corners of my lips in a way that almost made me smile.

 

The Canso was a veteran of the brine. The old planks retained the fetid odor of fish, though leaky had been seaworthy enough. Her nets had been removed to allow every inch of room and we filled it, many sitting with knees tucked to their chests. When her hull crunched into the mud of the river’s edge, one leg of our trek was complete.

 

Everyone awake. Everyone asleep. Many eyes were bleary, reactions slow, tiredness running in their veins just the same as their blood. Everyone who survived the crossing climbed up the grassy embankment in a mix of emotions. For some relief, some fear, some grieving for the place they left. Ahead is unknown, all we can do is pray for things to be better where they are heading for they cannot know what awaits them.

 

At the top of the embankment we all huddled into the shed. This is where we had been told to wait. On the floor near the front wall sits a woman and child, the kid relaxed into her arms so fully it was like they were one organism, melted together. He has a look of contentment on his face. Now that her son is drifting into sleep her face becomes grave. Without his timid gaze she has no reason to feign a confidence she may not have felt.

 

The tiny window in the shed has its view obscured behind swirls of dried mud. The dawn came with a musical silence. The soul hearing a melody ears could not. A new day had come, new possibilities, a fresh page yet to be written.

 

With it a funny feeling comes, not excitement, though at first it appears that way. Some cry, some look grim, and the children are held close and loved with all the strength they have left in their bodies. My parents gathered myself along with all my brothers and sisters into a circle, hugging us as the first rose tinted rays of dawn glowed through the dried mud of the window.

 

Soon, the sound of a coughing diesel engine came from beyond the levee. A pair of the braver ones peered out. Excitedly they tell the rest of us the bus is coming. We all pour out of the shed, waiting as the old bus trundles up the road, its grumbling old engine spitting smoke like a trail of breadcrumbs.

 

It rumbles to a stop just above us, on top of the levee. An older alligator in a vest and a beret wearing weasel climbed out and motions to us to board.

 

“C’mon, we ain’t got all day.” The weasel called as he pulled the ladder down to throw cargo on top of the bus.

 

“Youse three, help people load their gear. You climb up and move things forward, you get to the top of the ladder and hand stuff ovah, while you, my you are a tall one, hand things to the guy on ladder. You heard Cavan, now get a move on.” The alligator hissed at an Orangutan, a Mountain Goat and a black bear, who took the positions indicated. So we loaded the few belongings while the old diesel pinged and creaked as it cooled. The process did not take long. There were not many belongings among those who made the journey.

 

Soon, we were all aboard the old bus. Rusted and dirty it was but to our eyes, it was a chariot to our hopes and dreams for a better life. The seats were full and those of us who were too big to sit in the laps of others lined up along the floor. After a couple of sputtering failed attempts the old engine roared into life with a mighty belch of exhaust. The decrepit bus lurched forward along the levee road pitted and bumpy with rocks soon to kiss the smooth asphalt to their destination.

 

From my vantage point on the floor I began to see the roofs of houses. Vaughan drove while Cavan stood on a rail at the front. Sometimes staring back at us, sometimes punching the alligator pointing directions.  Then other taller buildings appeared as we passed through a city. The buildings gave way to houses and as two hours passed the houses gave way to barren road.

 

The squeal of brakes signaled our journeys end. In front of us a building stood with a curved roof and corrugated metal walls. There were other similar buildings in the area but the road we had traveled was littered with old machinery covered in dirt and long since scavenged into skeletons of whatever they once were, indicated this place was long abandoned.

 

Cavan had run to the top of the bus while were taking in our surroundings. He began throwing our belongings down.

 

“This is where we part company. Your future lies in there.”

 

As soon as the bus top was emptied Cavan swung inside where Vaughan had kept the temperamental engine idling. We picked up our belongings and shuffled into the structure.”

 

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

 

World Building

 

This past weekend I attended an online seminar on world building host by Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Productions and Gumshoe Research Consultants.

 

Already it is making a difference. It has slowed me down just a little but will be a boon in the long run. The work sheets and the information I entered as part of the exercises is already helping me catch continuity among the stories in the anthology I am writing.
The slowdown is I am catching continuity problems here and there. Having those sheets handy is making it easier though. As I come across something I need to decide upon or fix they are a great place to organize the world structure.
The work sheets are cool, but the other part that sank in was the discussion among the participants. Being able to discuss the points made in lecture among a great group of authors really drove home some ways of thinking differently about how I was handling some of the points in my current project.
Writing several short stories set in the same universe, being able creating and having this resource is great. It’s definitely having an impact on the Fairy Tale Noir Anthology and will carry into projects.

If I walked away with anything it is there has to be a story regardless of the world setting, but the better I know my world, the richer and fuller it becomes for my readers.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

 

 

The Sleeping Hare

This is a rough opening for a work in progress. A short story set in the world of The Three Billy Goats Gruff for an anthology. I think it’s off to a good start. Perspective needs to shift slightly but a good start.

*****

Don’t expect to find dignity in an old bar. Not here. Not at “The Sleeping Hare.”
The sallow light of street-lamps trickled into the darkened room through diamonds of lead panes. The smoke twisted in an artistic way, forming curls in the gloom, illuminated only by the age-speckled bar lights.
The smell has changed over the years. Once it was of cigarette smoke only, the bouquet clung to clothing, skin and furniture alike. Now it is joined by the miasma of stale beer, cheap hooch, body odor and cheaper perfume from the quiff trying to make a buck.
“The Sleeping Hare” was always a den of debauchery, alcoholism and the great unwashed of the town. It still is. No-one comes here with anything wholesome in mind. Probably why the small mountain of a goat sat on the stool by the door. Black, with tufts of grey in his beard, a tight T-shirt highlighted bulging muscles. If he did not look menacing enough, flexing those muscles was often deterrent enough for the occasional trouble maker.
Once upon a time, the place might have had a classy, old world feel. Now nicotine-stained walls, which might have been white, the darkened wood and stained reddish carpet only hinted at what might have been. There are establishments that are more like restaurants now – all clean with waiting staff. Not at “The Sleeping Hare.” Here, you still bellied up to the bar, where along the wall was every hue of amber liquid in their inverted bottles, and caught the barkeeps eye to place your order. Bring your patience though, tortoises are not known for their speed and Tabor is not as fast as he used to be, but he will take care of you.
The thunk of darts and clack of pool balls came from the back of the joint. An addition to the old building the plaster and wood gave way to cinder block walls painted black. Four red felt pool tables commanded the center of the room. They and the dart board lanes in the back of the room brought in almost as the cheap hooch Tabor stocked.
Only one table was in use tonight, a young brown goat crisp white shirt with sleeve holders, thin black tie tossed over his shoulder as he lined up a shot while nearby a ferret in a beret watched, anxiously hoping for a scratch.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

So? You want to visit Ourangdun!

So? You want to visit Ourangdun!
Nothing says adventure quite like our Ourangdun. The open spaces which seem to stretch on forever tell the story of exploration and development. Our wide brown lands reflect Ourangdun’s pioneering spirit and unique identity. You can find a little bit of adventure in every part of Ourangdun, and while many regions are remote, they are patrolled and perfectly safe from outlaws.
So instead of worrying about an ambush, you can be enthralled by the rugged gorges, epic waterways and incandescent ocean of Ourangdun. Enjoy a triple-sunset chobo ride in Bwunda, then aquacar along the Poqntin River to the Jomilur Valley, home to the Oodic Cluster and near the beehive-striped Bingle Bangles of the Oyebykyky Butte. Bwunda is also the gateway to the remote, beautiful Spnouwe Peninsula.
Do I need a visa to enter Ourangdun?

Unless you are citizens of the planets Pyarpkupb or Neolwpkpbs, you will need a valid Ourangdun visa to land on the planet. Intrasolar visitors can apply for a visa upon arrival planetside. There is a slight quarantine period while awaiting approval. All other Intergalactic visitors must apply for a visa before leaving your homeworld. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

Which part of Ourangdun should I visit?
That depends on what you want to do!
• Want to go bounty hunting? Then try the northwestern hemisphere of the planet. The lucky traveler still occasionally stumbles over a nest of outlaws. You will be provided an introduction to bounty hunting and assigned to one our Corporate Raiders as interim Bounty Hunter. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you like to build sandcastles, then explore the Eastern hemisphere. Near Oyebykyky Buttes you will find a stand over a hundred meters tall and hundreds of kilometers long. This is a protected area. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.
• If you have an interest in wildlife, you should visit the Southern Hemisphere Nature Reserve. Here you can find a host of indigenous Ourangdun animals: the rare Przwenlsli, the world’s last wild dragon; the Bombus bear; the golden Vombatus; bactrachian two-humped Rhincodon. Even sabre-toothed Tragelodontus venture from their mountaintop homes in winter. Hunting is allowed by special visa during peak populations. Would you like to know more? Please see our full list of visas, available at any Ourangdun Oligarch Corporate Mining Conglomerate.

 

Before you go . . .
• Indigenous natives are nomadic. Every nomad family you meet will offer to serve you with a salty tea. Fermented milk from the domestic Rhincodon and, if you’re lucky, Rhincodon intestines! There is no vegetarian fare as even the vegetables contain meat. They call it “vegetable” because the plants are green.
• Just in case you can’t stomach the local fare, I recommend taking . . .
• Emergency rations from your ship.
• And anything else you can’t live without!
• And unless you fancy dealing with explosive diarrhea in the middle of a Ourangdun sandstorm—bring some antidiarrheals meant for your physiology! (You wouldn’t like the local concoction.)
• Other standard items to take include sunglasses, sun cream (we recommend SPF 300 because of the three suns), and small gifts for the nomads you meet on your travels (so they do not serve you with the above-mentioned a salty tea).
• Oh yes, one more thing … avoid the Orellian Death Worm at all costs!

Good luck and Happy Trails!
Remember the Number One Rule:
HAVE FUN!

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Book Review: Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Friction: Anthology

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Craving adventure? Pulse Friction has all you could want. This anthology will take you on a whirlwind tour of pulp stories. The collection does a good job of presenting various archetypes from Masked heroes, Mercenaries, Cat Burglars, Westerns and Hard boiled detectives and all undeniably Pulp.
Pulse Friction is a great buffet of authors. I am familiar with and have enjoyed three of the authors in both other anthologies and their own work, D. Alan Lewis, Barry Reese and Tommy Hancock are all favorites sitting on my shelves and they do not disappoint. I enjoyed the sampling the works of Eric Beetner, James Hopwood and Brian Drake and will be looking for more of their work. Each author brings their own flavor and the result is a series with a good rhythm. Each story has a plot with memorable characters which drive you forward in the action. A complaint I sometimes have with anthologies is a tendency for the stories to feel the same. Not to worry about Pulse Friction, the variation in protagonists and settings means you will not be reading the same story over and over.
The narration by Chase Johnson is solid. There are no background noises to distract from the narration. He enunciates clearly and is well spoken. In listening to the different stories Chase was at his best tone and style in the hard-boiled detective stories such as “Never Enough Corpses” or “Cry Blood”. This is personal taste but he did not feel quite right to me in “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Worst Friend”. Overall, the listening experience was enjoyable and I would listen to more books narrated by Chase Johnson.

Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Friction: Anthology   

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Rumblings from Faphniria!

The Faphnirains are a type of Saurian. These incredible beings boast two magnificent, enormous wings; strong, clawed legs; and an elegant, serpentine tail. Their two vertically-slit eyes, burrowed delicately in deep-seated sockets, carry an unfathomable air of wisdom and mystery. The gold or green flakes in their iris often whirl, making them appear to be excited. They have superb eyesight. Their hearing is also quite good, though their ears are small and stubby. Faphnirian skin is smooth and thin, covered in small, wide scales in shades of gold, light orange and orange. Their scales tend to become darker as they age.
Faphnirains are an old space-faring race. Rumor and legend say that the crew of a stranded Faphnirian ship may have given rise to the legend of dragons on old Earth.
Their faces appear to be trustworthy, but looks can be deceiving. When angered, their teeth and fangs are capable of biting through durallium alloy. Faphniria is an aristocratic society where the keeping of trophies is normal and expected. Trophies are valued for intelligence, wit, and beauty. The application and interview process to become a Faphnirian Trophy can take years and is an extremely rigorous undertaking.
Geography
The planet Faphniria was named by its discoverer after an ancient legend of old Earth. It is an iron planet in a small solar system with six other planets. Faphniria is about 1.35 times bigger than Earth and its gravity is about 1.90 times that of Earth.
A single day lasts 45.79 hours and a year lasts 462 days. Seven continents make up 58% of the planet’s landmass. Five moons orbit the planet and Faphniria itself orbits a blue sun in a fairly circular orbit.
Intergalactic Visitors
Faphnirains generally discourage visitors as they tend to distract from their pursuits in the arts and sciences. If you wish to inquire about becoming a Faphnirian Trophy, please send a copy of your transcripts showing a Ph.D. in at least three different disciplines, along with some of your peer-reviewed work. Artistic and athletic achievements should be noted as well. All forms of art are appreciated. Music, literature, sculpture, painting, etc. in any style should be submitted with a Galactic copyright attached. Virginity among applicants is preferred.
Seasonal Events and Attractions
Every 13 months, the Festival of Ballet is celebrated with great delight. The Festival features ballet from a dozen different species across the galaxy. Athletic competitions, especially gymnastic, are open by invitation only to the best in the Galaxy. To be invited to perform, or even to attend one of the performances, is a rare honor. The Festival is officially celebrated for eight days, but decorations are often seen weeks before the actual celebrations.
Every four years, the Festival of Dragons is celebrated with excited hearts. It’s a holiday with mythical roots, but today the celebration revolves around watching a beloved natural phenomenon – blowing smoke rings and amazing pyrotechnic displays. It is officially celebrated for eleven days, but the final celebrations often last deep into the night and even into the next day. Only Trophies have ever beheld its wonders.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

An update on the Three Billy Goats Gruff

I know, I know, I promised the story. Well, the bad news is I will not be sharing the rest of this crime noir here.

The good news is a publisher reached out and we are discussing a book based on this story. I am putting finishing touches on the proposal today.

The Billy Goats Gruff – A Crime Noir Fairy Tale – Part 1

The end of a creative group

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

The Billy Goats Gruff – A Crime Noir Fairy Tale – Part 1

Orland squinted as he tilted the bottle. Disappointed with how little remained, he downed it in a swallow; then held it upside down. Where were the answers that were supposed to hide at the bottom?
He knew why there were no answers. He already had them.
It was late and the office echoed. Still, he looked over his shoulder. Billy needed the new medastinum surgery to fix his lungs. Orland had lost his wife. He was not going to lose his son.
Before his last swallow of liquid nerve waned, he made a few quick pen strokes. There! It was finished. Tomorrow, as part of routine processing, a clerk would set up an ongoing transfer of funds to his secret account. He was an honest sort, but the company had refused to help. His salary was just not enough. The evidence was well-hidden and another clerk processing it was the final shield. Even the best auditors would be hard-pressed to track this back to him.
*****
Across town, splinters and dust flew as a stool attacked the wall. The wall won.
Detective Mikk Raud, enforcement services, had felt lucky his station was near home. He often stopped in for lunch. How could she? He never saw it coming. Knew she and the stoat had been friends. But he had been too trusting; it was a total shock coming home for lunch, maybe a little hanky-panky with the wife. Then he found all of her and their daughter’s things gone.
Numb from shock, he had gone on a toot. A few bottles of Ol’ Swamp Piss later and he’d woken to the landlord banging on the door. Stumbling over pieces of broken furniture, rubbing his sloped forehead, he’d answered the door. His landlord took a step back. “There’ve been complaints about the noise last night. I’m a nice guy, rented to you even though you’re trolls. Hope I don’t have cause to regret it.”
Mikk promised it would not happen again and shut the door. Then he’d crawled back into a bottle until, still on edge and hung over, he reported for his shift. He had thought routine might help. First call was a stupid teen goat. Had the kid just come peacefully he would have gotten a slap on the wrist. But no, he’d attacked and Mikk reacted. His natural trollish strength amplified by red rage, he let fly with all the pent anger at his wife. The kid was flung into a wall. With the crack of a homerun, his neck snapped, killing him.
Now, family gone, career ruined, Mikk perched on the skeleton of a chair, surveying the damage to his home.
Head falling into his hands, he wept.